Les Semaines


what I'm thinking and doing § what I'm listening to § what I'm reading
what I'm writing § retrospective: The Phonosnout


A Week in the Life

I think this is to make up for last week's lameness and to give an idea of what my life is like right now. I made Monday a rest day and a do-what-I-want day, and it helped me feel a lot better. Except I did go to work at 7:30. But after I got off at 12:30 Tamar and I went and had lunch at Dutch Treat in Ballard, one of our favourite coffee shops. We sat out on the sidewalk eating and talking and were amused by a man who sat his little dog on the chair beside us and had her do tricks. She was cute and the man was so sweetly proud of her. She was just a little gray poodle cross, actually quite a lot like my parents' Charlie, who know no tricks at all. After that we went to Golden Gardens Park and walked around in the gorgeous sun. Walked on the sand until my back started to hurt (not long, unfortunately) then watched the three baby ducklings bobbing in the water and the turtle on the log and pulled chewing gum off my bare feet. Then came home and I deadheaded flowers while Jim watered the garden then he made dinner and we watched two episodes of Dark Shadows we'd taped off SciFi (they're starting the whole series over again--it's something I watched when I was a kid) and then Daria episodes we hadn't seen. Not that's a day.

Tuesday I was exhausted. I'm not sure why. It took everything I could manage to get out of bed, and I thought I'd managed to crawl out an hour earlier than I actually had, so I didn't have time to exercise, though I got everything ready to before I realized it was actually 8:00 instead of 7:00,and I had to hurry and have a shower to get to work by 9:30. I was dull and stupid all day, doing dumb things like printing 50 copies instead of page 50. Ack. But I got through, and got home and it was almost too warm (85 Fahrenheit), so I opened all the windows and made a couple of phone calls for Clarion and then Jim came home and it was Christmas in July (well, May actually) as we opened Christina's Christmas box that had just arrived (she mailed it from the U.K. when she was there for a research visit). We marvelled over the socks and jewels and fruit tea, jars of things named in Turkish, and cat toys and dangling ornaments, and chocolate, and pillow covers, and all. Then we both had a nap except Zach whined for his dinner so we got up and fed him and I made our dinner (Salsa Pasta) and did most of the dishes because Jim had had to do the garbage organizing because tomorrow's garbage day, and he's planting tomatoes and out there watering now.

You can tell here that at this point I stopped being able to write these on the day itself and hereafter am working from memory (you remember that I don't have a good one). Wednesday was a tiring but invigorating day. Work was busy, and then I left early to go to North Seattle Community College, where my friend Ruth met me and took me to her creative writing class. There I spent 90 minutes talking to her students about dramatic monologues in poetry and fiction, and answering questions they had about writing. It was invigorating and fun to appear as a writer and an expert and to be able to talk and to read poems as the idea came up. I really enjoyed it. Then because one of my bosses had, I thought, made a fuss about me not being there to help, I went back to work to hand her and my other boss everything they needed for the College's awards ceremony. It turns out she was disappointed and hadn't meant to guilt me, but since she mentioned it several times, I felt pressured and there I was. In the long run I was glad to be there, as one student who got an award was delightfully surprised, and I was happy to be there for him. I left before the ceremony was over, but the part for my programs was over. I can't remember what I did, if anything, in the evening.

Thursday we were on strike again. But this time I was a wimp and took it as a day off without pay. I say a wimp because I really should have been walking the picket line, but I just had so much to do and I'm not a happy joiner in crowds. And so I picked up a friend and helped her get a chair to her apartment (she doesn't have a car) and thereby also got a heavy bag of things for the incoming Clarion students that she'd picked up. I dropped her off, checked the mail at the Clarion office, then went to Ballard and argued with the Kinko's people there. Darn it, they wouldn't honour the price the Capitol Hill branch gives us, and I couldn't bear to pay nearly five times (yes, you read that right, five) the price, I resolved to go back to Capitol Hill to drop the photocopying off I needed to do. But I couldn't bear to do it right away. I should point out that Capitol Hill is awkward to get to from the part of town I live in because of all the lovely crazy lakes and waterways. So I stayed home and made a bunch of phone calls and did some other work, and then when Jim came home I talked him into coming with me and I dropped off the photocopying and we picked up dinner from one of our favourite Thai restaurants that we don't get to so often anymore because it's way over on Capitol Hill (why are the Thai restaurant in Ballard so mediocre?), then home and again I don't remember the rest of the evening. No wait, I do remember that I got incredibly dizzy, so dizzy that I worried I couldn't walk downstairs to bed. I thought maybe it was something in the food, but when we ate the leftovers I was fine so maybe it was the lighter fluid smell from someone's barbecue that drifted heavily into the open windows. I forgot to mention that the weather was lovely this week.

Friday was back at work and trying to catch up after taking the strike day and getting ready for the long Memorial Day weekend here in the Altered States of America. Busy busy busy. Then I raced off home when Kinko's had delivered my photocopying work, the angels. I forgive them everything for driving all that way to deliver the copying job. I packaged up the photocopying for the mail and was all ready to take it to the post office, when Jim took pity on me and went and picked up the gargantuan pile of library books I'd put on hold all of which just arrived in a pack, and went to the post office for me. Of course after he left I remembered that I'd forgotten to put something in one of the boxes. Darn it. Friday night Jim and I sat around and watched Farscape and stuff.

So that brings me to Saturday, yesterday, which was mostly taken up by going to a barbecue because a friend and her nearly three-year-old daughter were going to be briefly in town. It was wonderful to see her and to see the mutual friends in that group of people that we haven't seen for a while. And her daughter, whom I'd never met before, was charming. It was a lovely afternoon, and I got Too Much Sun, and I don't care. Later, after dinner, we drove over to Redmond (that's across Lake Washington for those of you not from here--well, it still is to those of you from here, but otherwise you might not know that fact) and went to this strange place where our friend Tamar was singing a friend and guitarist, Russ. What an odd place. It was some kind of place with "Fellowship" in the name and I was certain it was some kind of Christian thing, except the people there didn't look or act like Christians and it turns out it was related to AA in some way. But anyhow, Tamar sang wonderfully, powerfully, and the hair on my neck stood on end. Whoo. She sounded great. But she didn't sing long enough at all. Her versions of "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" (one of my favourite Sandy Denny songs) and Katell Keineg's "Hestia" kicked ass. As did her cover of a Linda Perry song that I don't know. As did her cover of Joni Mitchell's "For Free". But "Hestia" was my favourite. Afterwards we didn't want to stay for the next band (a prog rock group, not our thing at all) so Jim finally showed me where he worked, which is also in Redmond. Yes, he crosses that lake every day and curses it. I had never been to this particular site though he's worked there for several years. Once I tried to pick him up from there when he was sick but I couldn't find it (it's in the midst of a industrial park) and had to meet him at a nearby minimart. So I saw his office and his warehouse and his private bathroom and where he'd stood during the earthquake and then we walked along the Slough where he takes his coworker's dog for walks when she comes to work with her owner. And I saw Jim's favourite tree, which is quite a nice tree even if I haven't a clue what kind it is. Then we walked back and drove home. I love the long summer days in late May.

And here we are to today, which wasn't much. I moved things around in the mess that is my office (I'm slowly reorganizing, which is a stupid idea when I have so much going on). I played with Sophia. I played Solitaire. I read and provided a lap for Zach. I answered some email, which I have neglected so badly it's at its worst backlog ever. Ye gods. I put off having a shower until Jim had done the laundry and my hair is still wet and it's after 10:00. He's still in his study, working, as he does of a Sunday.

There it was, a week.

last week's thinking and doing § next week's thinking and doing


Well, as I mentioned above, I went and heard Tamar sing, which was wonderful.

Disc listening has mostly involved Willow's lovely new disc (see last week).

last week's listening § next week's listening


Garth Nix's Lirael is a sequel of sorts to his wonderful Sabriel, and like it is utterly absorbing. However, it just ends in the middle of the story and the next volume isn't due out for a while. How irritating. How frustrating. Especially as I loved the story. It's about a young girl, a daughter of the Clayr, all of whom have the Sight. Except her. Even as she grows older she doesn't develop it, but finally finds a place for herself as an assistant librarian, and there in the Clayr's strange and magical library she creates a place where she can learn and explore in the company of the Disreputable Dog, a creature she created out of magic--or who used her magic to come back into being. And she learns more about magic. The Disreputable Dog is both a companion and guide and leads her in and out of trouble, until one day she finds herself being sent on a mission to help save her people. At the same time, Sabriel's son, who is destined to follow in her footsteps, has an encounter with a necromancer, which leaves him utterly unnerved, sop much so that he cannot do what his family expects him to, and while they're off trying to fight some of the worst incursions of what they think this necromancer is accomplishing, he leaves to try to find a friend of his.... Really this is complicated and yet clear and wonderful, and Nix is such an engaging writer. I loved it. All except for the having to wait for the next installment part.

Anita Diamante's The Red Tent has been getting a lot of press and the library hold list I waited through before I got the book was impressively long. It's the story of the biblical Dinah, daughter of Leah and Jacob, sister of Joseph of the many-coloured coat, who grows up the daughter of all four of Jacob's wives, in the red tent where the women go when they're menstruating. It's a story of the divisions between men and women in that culture, a tale of the women's world of love and birth and death and children, while following their unreasonable, unappealing men. I wanted to like this novel, but it was written in such a matter of fact way that it felt rather dry and a little uninvolving, and more like a history than a novel. It made sense to me when I realized that the author has written a lot of nonfiction and this is her first published novel. I would only recommend this to people who are particularly interested in novels that give you a strong sense of the historical and cultural world it's set in. This seemed much more three-dimensional to me than the characters or plot.

last week's reading § next week's reading


Writing? Not this week, other than some notes for poems-of-the-future and some research for Bryony's Needle, something that I had just sloppily hinted at but which I need to fill in with more realistic, involving, interesting detail.

last week's writing § next week's writing

Retrospective: The Phonosnout

About the Phonosnout

January 1980

1075. Busy Day
January 2, 1980

I have hit my busy day state--baking, sewing, running errands, seeing Randy. Basically starting my year off busily. My will is managing to hold me fairly well in check--baking I didn't test at all, sewing went well, errands were organized, seeing Randy, well--I wasn't there. We have no means of communication anymore, but we try. randy drove me downtown and I saw a lot of people. K.C. going into the James Bay Inn, Russell, then Linda. I wonder what it all means? There has to be some kind of pattern that the way we drove, where we had to stop and park, led us to these people then, just in time to see them. THis city is too big for things like that to just happen in such a short space of time. O madness and vulgarity and the attraction of the girl K.C. was with. How are you doing in Toronto, Christina? Are you delighted with Ben, John, and Debbie and the advent of the next little one? Have you seen Gina and Victoria yet? [1] And does life start to make sense? How many patterns are being worked out everywhere and anywhere? And too, why do I have a sore knee? Why do I imagine noises, and why doesn't my cat like to sleep with me anymore? Why does the rain make a sound like voices praying?

1076. Like men in their sleep
January 3rd 1980

     the fire throws opal light
     I began with stone and water
     then learned wood to build with
     Days being to unravel,
     words to unmean
     I would hold my hands to the
     shape of the fire

     from every nightmare I emerge, changed. [2]

1077. Days shudder
January 4th

Days shudder by ne now, as I drift in a sometimes warmth. Last night we had a workshop at David Carpenter's; it was good but I said little, contributed little, having not been in contact with literary Neile for a while. I've been too busy playing Gillain Nancy and home tired sewing nancy. However, Neile's' will has been retraining me. I have behaved myself, Christina, with little sitting nothinging as I did before. This time the weight will come off me, and I will work. I will prove I can do it, to myself and to all. Now, I sit in bed, with Achilles on my lap, purring, and the hose creaking into night as it always does. This was that last true day of the holiday and I will miss it. It was a good day, besides mixing wine and Tie Maria last night, and, well, embarrassingly not keeping it down, sleeping a rough night fighting nausea, but a good night, nevertheless.

1078. "Hark" says the Harold. "Hark, Hark"
January 5th

It's Harold's birthday today. Happy 22nd, Hark. There's a poem by David McFadden that says "'Bark' says the dog. 'Bark, Bark.'" so Harold, knowing we call him Hark (as in Harold Angels Sing) says this over the phone last night. So Diane cooks dinner for Harold, and I am invited for a very pleasant evening (and dinner). We talk and talk. Harold is interested in fragments--Harold is interested. And I am thinking, yes I'm thinking. And now I'm alone, and the cat is prowling under my bed. Angry because it snowed today for Harold. And I woke up today and a sift, sprinkling or veil of snow came down, and the day was so clear and sunny that it was a well-planned day for january and Harold, and I should have taken a walk, maybe tomorrow.

1079. Organizational Day
January 6th

Fuss and bother, bother and fuss. O, selection and dispose of, organize, tidy, that was today. Day of reminiscence, going through old toys, and packing things away. Playing with old toys and packing things away. Sorting stuff to be given away and other... Then went to the movie Wizards with Jon and Maureen. Super, than had a pleasant time at their house. Enjoyable, relaxing, evening with the snow still around the houses but not on the roads. And my freedom all ends tomorrow--back to work.


1. Christina had moved to Toronto to attend the University of Toronto and was living with a couple and their children.

2. Wow, this is a poem that changed. Here is how it appears in Seven Robins:

     Like Men in Their Sleep

     Fire builds dreams;
     I built a fire, placed
     stones around it
     numberless as night.
     My strange manufacture
     grows as boys do, stretching
     in their sleep.
                       I sleep
     to dream, but so lightly now
     I envision only myself,

     The fire at the centre
     ravels the nights. I hold my hands
     to the shape of the flames,catch their light on my fingers,
     and find myself bound here by fire,
     as men, sleeping, are bound
     by cumbersome dreams.

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